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Purdue University. Agricultural Extension Service

 Organization

Dates

  • Existence: 1869-

Historical Information

In the 1880s Purdue University started interesting experimental work in agriculture. Valuable information on crop rotation, soil fertility, care of livestock, fruit production and marketing, and other numerous farm related topics were generated from the ongoing research. In 1889, Professor W. C. Latta became a key figure in the enactment of the Farmer’s Institute Act, which legally recognized the work the university had been doing in holding farm schools and ‘moveable’ schools throughout the state.

The first county agents were appointed in 1906, along with the appointment of the first home demonstration agents in 1910. This work in turn led to the Clore Act in 1911, which authorized expansion of extension work, under the direction of the Department of Agriculture Extension. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act which provided for co-operative relations between state and nation to aid in agricultural education. Extension Service became the educational arm of the United States Department of Agriculture. Forty-two states had extension work in some form in 1914 and 929 counties already employed 1,350 extension workers. By mid-June 1918, nationally 2,435 counties had agriculture agents, 1,715 counties had home demonstration agents, and 4-H membership had soared to a half million members.

In 1940 about 55,000 Indiana boys and girls between ten and twenty years of age were enrolled in these groups, which led to great improvements in farm life. More than 2,000,000 persons attended in one year the lectures and demonstrations that the county agents, home demonstration agents and specialists from Purdue conducted. In the 1960s and 1970s additional programs were added, and the Agricultural Extension Service was changed to the Cooperative Extension Service, and agent titles were changed to County Extension Agent. In the 1980s and 1990s, the “farm crisis” redirected extension; Indiana combined 10 areas into 5 districts, positions were downsized in 1987, with a strong emphasis on accountability and collaboration with organizations with similar goals.

Extension continues to take the university to the people and the demonstration method is still in use. Goals remain to empower customers, develop volunteers, build collaborative partnerships, increase the capacity to secure resources, utilize appropriate technologies and communication networks and create a climate for staff to realize their potential. Extension educators with agricultural and natural resource specialties offer programs and information on agricultural production and financial management for farmers, food and fiber processors, manufacturers and consumers.

Citation

Frederick Whitford, Neal Harmeyer, and David M. Hovde. Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family: A Photo History of Indiana's Early County Extension Agents. Purdue University Press, 2016.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

College of Agriculture, Administration of the College of Agriculture records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 44
Abstract Administrative books, correspondence, financial records, faculty minutes, reports, and other materials documenting the administration, history, and growth of the College of Agriculture.
Dates: 1869-2009; Other: Date acquired: 03/08/2008

College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 26
Abstract Correspondence, Financial Records, Letter Books, Letters, and Reports documenting the history, administration, and activities of Agricultural Extension at Purdue University and its precursor, the Farmers’ Institute.
Dates: 1890-2010; Other: Date acquired: 03/08/2008

College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Agricultural Safety and Health, Breaking New Ground Resource Center, Ag

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 1
Abstract Guidebooks, newsletters, brochures, resource manuals, DVDs, and etc. documenting the service of Purdue’s Breaking New Ground Resource Center and the U.S.D.A.’s Agrbility Program.
Dates: 1982-2012; Other: Majority of material found in 1986-1997, 2005, 2007-2012; Other: Date acquired: 01/07/2013

College of Agriculture, Department of Agronomy, records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 27
Abstract Correspondence, field notebooks, photo albums, photographs, reports, slides, soil notebooks, and other materials documenting the history, administration, and activities of the College of Agriculture’s Department of Agronomy.
Dates: 1879-2011; Other: Date acquired: 08/02/2008

College of Agriculture Extension reports

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 59
Abstract Annual reports compiled by the Indiana Agricultural Agents and Home Demonstration Agents and beginning in the 1960s, the Cooperative Extension Agents
Dates: 1913 - 1972; Majority of material found within 1940 - 1969; Other: Date acquired: 01/10/2010

College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics, records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 66
Abstract Correspondence, books, reports, and a book manuscript documenting the history of Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural Economics (formally Farm Management).
Dates: 1933 - 2003; Other: Date acquired: 03/08/2008

Eva Goble papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 3
Abstract This collection contains materials that document the activities of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service in the 1950s, as well as the activities of Eva Goble and her contributions to the Purdue University School of Home Economics.
Dates: 1920 - 2006; Majority of material found within 1960 - 1980; Other: Date acquired: 11/06/2008

Roscoe Fraser papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 548
Scope and Contents Scrapbooks, letters, slides, films and news reels, photographs, and printed materials primarily relating to agriculture. Includes information on the Purdue Golden Girl, Purdue farm, livestock, the Indiana State Fair, various crops, the Tomato Festival, and experimental fields. Please see PDF Finding Aid for collection inventory.
Dates: 1912 - 1974; Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1978

Howard W. Gregory papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSF 153
Scope and Contents The Howard W. Gregory papers contain documents pertaining to Gregory's work at Purdue University as head of the Purdue Dairy Department. The collection includes records of Purdue Dairy Extension, dairy production and processing reports, information on teaching and research, and professional writings and speeches. This collection may be useful to researchers interested in advances in dairy science, the development of dairy processes, procedures, and industry in the first half of the 20th...
Dates: 1922 - 1960

Hepburn and Sears papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSF 503
Scope and Contents This collection contains information compiled by William Hepburn and Louis Martin Sears for an unpublished book on the history of Purdue's academic departments: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, the Engineering Experiment Station, Engineering Extension Service, Agriculture, Indiana Experiment Station, Agricultural Extension, Pharmacy, Home Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Education, English, History and Economics, Modern...
Dates: 1922 - 1928